20.6.18

Congress’s chaotic scramble to address Trump’s family separation border policy, explained

 

Temporary immigration detention is a "shitshow"

 
A mother and child in the Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX.

The government tried this in 2014. It was a disaster.

Republicans, including Donald Trump, are proposing to solve the crisis caused by the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the US/Mexico border by trying to allow families to be detained together in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security.

That would prevent the trauma and outrage that separating families has caused. But it wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem of adequate care for children in government custody — and it could make it extremely difficult to honor due process for migrants seeking asylum.

In 2014, in response to outrage about children and families crossing into the US, the Obama administration ramped up the detention of families — spinning up ICE facilities to temporarily hold families while they were sent through the deportation process.

Lawyers described the results as a “shitshow” in which migrants with legitimate asylum claims were almost certainly being deported.

Here’s the article I wrote about it at the time. It initially ran on August 6, 2014.

Two weeks ago, the first pro bono lawyers were let in to the detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is keeping Central American migrant families. Since then, a small group of pro bono attorneys, organized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, has been in the detention center 12 hours a day, trying to ensure that as many immigrants as possible get legal representation in a process that's complex, fast, and difficult to understand. Because the Obama administration has been clear that it wants immigrants' cases processed as quickly as possible — and that most of them should be deported — lawyers feel it's all the more important to make sure immigrants aren't being railroaded and are given an opportunity to exercise their rights.

One of those lawyers is Laura Lichter, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Lichter describes the court process in Artesia as a "shitshow" where judges won't let lawyers say anything during hearings, detainees who clearly deserve asylum are being denied, and no one will say what the legal basis is for judges and asylum officers' decisions. Here are nine of the biggest problems with the way the government's handling migrant families in Artesia, according to Lichter's account.

(Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services did not respond to requests for comment.)

1) There's one pro bono lawyer for every 120 detainees

The pro bono lawyers currently at Artesia are attorneys from elsewhere in the country who close up their own offices for a few weeks to represent immigrants in detention. But there are only a handful of them and 627 detainees. Lichter says there's one lawyer for every 120 immigrants.

Typically, according to Lichter, each asylum case takes about 50 hours of a lawyer's time. But cases are being processed so quickly at Artesia that lawyers are lucky if they have any time at all. Judges aren't giving lawyers any more than two weeks to file an asylum claim — even though they have dozens of other immigrants they are supposed to be representing.

Furthermore, ICE, which runs the Artesia detention center, is severely restricting the amount of time lawyers can even spend with clients. Lawyers are not allowed to arrive before 7 in the morning, and they have to leave by 7 at night. That's not counting the time they spend in the van shuttle to the facility, being screened into the facility, and having their clients brought to them — a process Lichter says can take another 2 hours.

And there's no guarantee that someone will be able to see a lawyer at all. Lichter says, "We've got people walking in saying, 'What does this paper mean?' and it turns out they've got a hearing that afternoon, and they've never had a chance to talk to a lawyer."

2) Judges won't let lawyers speak during hearings

According to Lichter, immigration judges at Artesia aren't letting lawyers participate in their clients' hearings at all. "What they are routinely telling lawyers is, 'You have no role in this process. You can consult with your client, and I will in my discretion allow you to be here,'" she says. When a lawyer wants to present something as evidence, the lawyer has to hand the evidence to the immigrant, who then hands it to the judge.

3) Lawyers can't meet with their clients when they're waiting for their hearing, either

When Lichter and the other lawyers first got to Artesia, immigrants who were waiting for their court hearings were kept in the "law library" — the back room where attorneys were allowed to meet with clients. "So we were able to prep them for their hearings," says Lichter. Then, the government changed the rules. Immigrants are now held in a separate room while they're waiting for their hearings — and detention officials won't bring them to attorneys to consult beforehand. According to Lichter, they're telling lawyers, "You'll only see your client when you go to court."

4) Judges and asylum officers are denying "textbook" asylum claims

In some cases, Lichter and her colleagues have been able to look at the cases of immigrants who had already lost all their attempts to stay in the US. "We've taken several cases where, before we got there, the person had an interview, it was denied. [Then] they went in front of an immigration judge, it was denied. And then we looked at it and said, 'Are you effing kidding me?'"

One of these, Lichter says, was the case of a "gay woman from El Salvador — a textbook asylum claim." (LGBT Salvadorans have to contend with widespread discrimination, violence and persecution at the hands of locals and police officers. Last year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a special hearing on LGBT rights in El Salvador, after five individuals were murdered.)

The lawyers were "just barely" able to get the government to reopen the Salvadoran woman's case "once they figured out what was going on." When she was given a second shot at her interview with the asylum officer, she passed.

"These aren't stinky cases," she says of her clients' asylum claims. "These are people who have been the victims of severe domestic violence, trafficking, political attacks."

5) Judges won't tell anyone about the legal basis for their decisions

Immigration judges aren't part of the normal federal court system, but they still make their rulings based on precedent decisions from the Board of Immigration Appeals. But Lichter says that she's seen cases in Artesia where the immigrant's asylum claim was identical to one of the cases traditionally used as precedent for granting asylum — except that this time, the immigrant was denied.

Judges aren't telling lawyers what legal opinions they are relying on to determine whether an immigrant met the burden of proof, either. Additionally, in asylum cases, documents from the Department of State are generally used to educate judges about whether the immigrant's home country is as dangerous as he or she claims — but in Artesia, Lichter and her colleagues haven't been told what resources the judges are consulting.

6) Asylum officers are asking questions detainees can't understand

Before an immigrant seeking asylum even goes before an immigration judge, he or she has an interview with an asylum officer. The asylum officer is in charge of determining whether or not the immigrant has a credible fear of persecution if he or she returns to his or her home country. There are five asylum officers at Artesia, according to Lichter, and they're churning out about 100 cases a week.

It's hard enough to get immigrants to talk about traumatic experiences with strangers, especially when, as Lichter notes, many of them assume that everyone knows how dangerous it is in their home countries, so it isn't even something they think needs to be said. But asylum officers are supposed to get immigrants to talk about their experiences, and then figure out whether or not they're at risk of persecution. Lichter says some asylum officers instead are expecting immigrants to understand the legal terminology around asylum, asking questions like "Are you a member of a particular social group" (one of the kinds of discrimination that an asylee can claim) "and if so, what is that group?"

7) Border Patrol agents aren't telling the whole story

Asylum officers are given reports from the Border Patrol agent who first apprehended an immigrant. If that report doesn't mention that the immigrant fears persecution, the asylum officer is less likely to trust the immigrant's claim. But Lichter's clients are saying Border Patrol agents aren't asking whether they fear persecution. Instead, they're asking them if they plan to get a job while they're in the United States. If an immigrant says yes, the Border Patrol agent writes that he or she is here to work, not here to seek asylum.

8) ICE isn't letting detainees leave after they've passed their asylum screenings

According to a 2009 memo, Lichter says, ICE agents are supposed to release immigrants from detention after they've passed an asylum screening, so that they can find their own lawyer and live freely while they're pursuing their case through the courts. But ICE isn't letting anyone out of the Artesia center. Lichter says they've declared that all 627 parents and children in Artesia are a "national security risk," and therefore need to be held in detention for the weeks or months it will take to finish their case.

9) ICE tried to change the rules to keep lawyers from using computers or printers at the detention center

Lichter says that given their caseload and the amount of time it takes to get into and out of Artesia, the only way they've been able to do this work at all is that they're able to have computers and a mobile printer/copier on hand to type up notes, print out documents, and fact-check clients' claims. But on Monday, she says, the ICE officers running Artesia gave the lawyers a "new list" of prohibited items, which included cell phones, computers, printers, wi-fi, etc. Lichter said that by late Monday ICE had worked out a "compromise" with the lawyers where phones would still be prohibited but other items might be permitted. But if the change weren't reversed, she says, she'd be able to do "maybe 5 percent" of the cases she does now. That means that there would be 10 immigrants getting lawyers in all of the Artesia facility.

source: vox

Watch: Rachel Maddow cries at the family separation crisis. Corey Lewandowski mocks it.

 

Lewandowski remarked “womp, womp” on a child’s plight in the family separation crisis. Later in the evening, Maddow struggled through tears to report on the crisis.

Two moments from cable news on Tuesday sum up the vast differences between how Trump supporters and opponents are reacting to thousands of children being separated from their families: On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow was too choked up to speak.

On The Story With Martha MacCallum former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski responded to news that a 10-year-old with Down Syndrome had been separated from her mother with a dismissive “womp womp.”

As Maddow was closing her show, she received word that the the Associated Press broke a story that babies and very young children have been sent to “tender age” shelters.

Doctors and lawyers who have visited the shelters noted there were “play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis ... hysterical, crying and acting out.” Struck by the severity of the news, Maddow broke down, unable to speak. She began to cry and passed the show on to Lawrence O’Donnell.

She later apologized for “losing it” in a series of tweets:

The gulf between MSNBC and Fox is massive

Contrast that with what happened earlier Tuesday when former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on The Story With Martha MacCallum. Fellow panelist Zac Petkanas detailed a story on “a 10-year old girl with Down Syndrome who was taken from her mother and put in a cage.”

Lewandowski interrupted Petkanas mid-sentence with “womp, womp,” setting an astounded Petkanas off as he exclaimed “how dare you!” repeatedly. (Lewandowski later claimed on Twitter that he was mocking Petkanas because he “attempted to politicize children.”)

But the comment drew outrage, including from the right — just as Trump’s family separation policy has split Republicans.

To some supporters of the policy, though, Lewandowski’s response — and Maddow’s — are the whole point. Critics are accusing Maddow of being weak, faking her tears, or expending tears that should be shed for issues such as abortion.

And Lewandowski’s dismissive response is typical of how the architect of Trump’s immigration policy, Stephen Miller, sees the crisis. As Vox’s Jane Coaston wrote:

Miller has no interest in convincing the opposition of the correctness of his views. Like he did in high school and in college at Duke University, he simply wants to enrage. As National Review columnist Dan McLaughlin told me, this follows his boss’s style of political discourse. “A hallmark of the Trump approach to politics is the assumption that politics is all about activating emotional reactions, not persuading anyone to change their mind,” he said. In short, “triggering the libs.”

In that worldview, bringing a MSNBC host to tears over the cruelty of your policy is a victory.

source: vox

Why Border Patrol agents obey immoral orders

 

President Buhari Blasts National Assembly for Padding 2018 Budget

 

I would like to thank the leadership of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as all the Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members, for passing the 2018 Appropriation Bill, after seven months.

When I submitted the 2018 Budget proposals to the National Assembly on 7th November 2017, I had hoped that the usual legislative review process would be quick, so as to move Nigeria towards a predictable January-December financial year. The importance of this predictability cannot be overemphasized.

While the Federal Government’s budget represents less than 10% of aggregate yearly expenditures in the economy, it has a very significant accelerator effect on the financial plans of other tiers of government, and even more importantly, the private sector, which mostly operates on a January-December financial year.

Notwithstanding the delay this year, I am determined to continue to work with the National Assembly towards improving the budgeting process and restoring our country to the January-December fiscal cycle.

I note, with pleasure, that the National Assembly is working on the enactment of an Organic Budget Law, so as to improve the efficiency of the nation’s budgetary process.

As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, we intend to use the 2018 Budget to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.

It is in this regard that I am concerned about some of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the budget proposals that I presented. The logic behind the Constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive is that, it is the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects.

Unfortunately, that has not been given much regard in what has been sent to me. The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.

Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute.

Furthermore, many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.

As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.

Such examples of projects from which cuts were made are as follows:

The provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as Counter-part funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project were cut by an aggregate of 11.5 billion Naira.

Similarly, provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira.

The provision for Rehabilitation and Additional Security Measures for the United Nations Building by the FCT, Abuja was cut by 3.9 billion Naira from 4 billion Naira to 100 million Naira; this will make it impossible for the Federal Government of Nigeria to fulfill its commitment to the United Nations on this project.

The provisions for various Strategic Interventions in the health sector such as the upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system, provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira.

The provision for security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country were cut by 3 billion Naira at a time when securing our students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern of government.

The provision for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme was cut by 8.7 billion Naira.

At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.

The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.

The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira which will further delay the completion of this critical project.

The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira.

About seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote. Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly.

Another area of concern is the increase by the National Assembly of the provisions for Statutory Transfers by an aggregate of 73.96 billion Naira. Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance.

An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself which has increased by 14.5 billion Naira, from 125 billion Naira to 139.5 billion Naira without any discussion with the Executive.

Notwithstanding the above stated observations, I have decided to sign the 2018 Budget in order not to further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget.

However, it is my intention to seek to remedy some of the most critical of these issues through a supplementary and/or amendment budget which I hope the National Assembly will be able to expeditiously consider.

I am pleased with the success recorded in the implementation of the 2017 Budget. A total sum of 1.5 trillion Naira has been released for the implementation of capital projects during the 2017 fiscal year. In response to this and other policy measures implemented, we have observed significant improvement in the performance of the Nigerian economy.

To achieve the laudable objectives of the 2018 Budget, we will work very hard to generate the revenues required to finance our projects and programmes. The positive global oil market outlook, as well as continuing improvement in non-oil revenues, make us optimistic about our ability to finance the budget.

However, being a deficit budget, the Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly. I crave the indulgence of the National Assembly for a speedy consideration and approval of the Plan.

The 2018 Budget I have just signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of 9.12 trillion Naira, which is 22.6% higher than the 2017 Appropriation. Further details of the approved budget will be provided by the Minister of Budget and National Planning.

I thank the Ministers of Budget and National Planning, the Budget Office of the Federation, and everyone who worked tirelessly and sacrificed so much to bring us to this day. However, the job is only partly done.

I am sure you will remain committed to advancing our Change Agenda, not only in the preparation of the national budget, but also in ensuring its effective implementation.

I thank you and may God bless Nigeria.

(NTA)

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“The sadness just writes itself”: late-night hosts on Trump’s border separation policy

 

Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and other hosts are lining up to call Trump’s immigration policy heartless and immoral.

Late-night hosts including Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and Jimmy Kimmel used their platforms Tuesday night to address the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border.

“This issue is not going away,” Noah said. “It’s like strip club glitter.”

Highlighting the growing bipartisan push to end the cruel policy, Noah criticized the president for listening to Fox News analysts instead of congressional Republicans. He called out Fox anchor Laura Ingraham’s disingenuous description of the metal enclosures where kids are being detained as “summer camps” and “boarding schools.”

“Was her family just dropping her off every June at state prison?” he quipped.

“The point is that the federal government is snatching kids away from their parents,” he continued. “If you kidnap someone’s kid but you keep them in a really nice basement, that’s still not okay.”

Meanwhile, Colbert turned his harshest criticism not on Fox, but on White House staffers who were directly enabling the policy.

After conflicting reports that press secretary Sarah Sanders had not wanted to do yesterday’s tense press briefing on the issue, Colbert encouraged her — and any other White House official who was uncomfortable with the policy — to leave the administration.

“So your administration owns locking up children. But if kids in cages is too much to defend, you could resign,” he said. “This is the White House, not an abandoned Walmart — you’re allowed to leave.”

The hosts joined Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Meyers in delivering blistering calls for changes in the policy this week. Meyers’s Monday night “A Closer Look” segment was an 11-minute deconstruction of the policy, which he called “monstrous” and “morally repugnant,” while Fallon also made the issue the centerpiece of his Monday night monologue. In his Tuesday night monologue, however, he mentioned only that attorneys general from 22 states were calling on Trump to end the policy.

But while Fallon backed off the critical refrain, hearing comedians take the moral high ground against appalling acts of the administration seems to have become a routinized part of late night. Colbert acknowledged this, joking, “The sadness just writes itself.”

And while there’s something surreal about hearing Trevor Noah conclude his monologue with obvious statements like “separating kids from their parents is heartless,” it’s also apparent that they’re necessary — and that the leaders of late night have no intention of putting down their megaphones on this issue.

source: vox

I study kids who were separated from their parents. The trauma could change their brains forever.

 
Border Patrol agents detain a group of Central American asylum seekers near the US-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.

The psychological impact is well-documented.

“Will I ever see my mommy again?”

Years later, the question still haunts me. In my career working with children who experienced caregiver related traumas, it was a question I heard all too often.

I have worked in hospitals, in community mental health centers, in schools, and with foster and adoptive care agencies. Whether children had moved between multiple foster homes, were worried about a parent being deported, or had been removed from their biological parents, the lasting effects of these early experiences were clear. The children’s symptoms often differed, from nightmares to aggression to self-harm, but the pain evident on the children’s faces, and in their questions to me, was the same each time.

The thought of being separated from one’s child is horrifying to any parent. But it pales in comparison to the potential for lifelong harm that forcible family separation will produce for the children subjected to it.

More than 2,300 children have been ripped from their parents’ arms at the southern US border since May. It’s part of the Trump administration’s new policy requiring that adults crossing the border illegally be tried criminally — a system that, in practice, has led to the forcible separation of parents from their children. Reports that children as young as 1 are being rounded up in detention cells continue to make news, including a new Associated Press report that at least three “tender age” shelters are detaining preschool-age children.

As a psychologist who studies how trauma and stress affect children’s development, I’m extremely concerned about the long-term impact of the Trump administration’s actions on these kids’ well-being

Forcible separation places these children at elevated risk for mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and conduct problems. Epidemiological data suggest that as many as 30 percent of mental health disorders are related to childhood adversity, highlighting the widespread impact of early trauma on public health.

In many cases, the trauma of being separated from their parents could be one in a long line of stressful experiences for a migrant child. Many families seeking asylum are already fleeing danger, and many children have already endured a harrowing journey upon arriving at the border. Exposure to multiple traumatic events places these children at even greater risk for mental health disorders.

The science on this issue is clear. Parents are essential to young children’s survival, providing nutrition, warmth, and access to shelter and medical care. Beyond these needs, parents fulfill the fundamental human need for attachment early in life. In fact, the importance of caregiving for survival and healthy brain development is so great that our species has evolved a neurobiological system that encourages close parent-child bonds. Decades of research show that disruptions to stable caregiving pose substantial risks to children’s well-being.

Some of the strongest evidence for the importance of stable caregiving in families comes from research on children deprived of parental care. Even after they are adopted into stable and loving families, children who were initially reared in institutionalized care (such as orphanages) show psychological and biological consequences many years later. The list of potential effects on the children is long and grim, including but not limited to problems with sleep, eating, cognitive functioning, attention, language, social functioning, and mental and physical illnesses, many of which could persist into adulthood.

How early-life trauma impacts psychological well-being

In my work, I am often asked why traumatizing experiences that occur early in life have such lasting effects. The reason is that separating a child from their parent produces toxic stress. When a child is ripped away from a parent, their body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Stress hormones surge, and the body prepares for danger. Although this response has evolved across many generations to promote survival, severe trauma or prolonged stress can lead to chronic problems with how the body responds to stress over a lifetime.

Young children are especially vulnerable to disruptions in caregiving. The environment we live in is constantly shaping our brains, preparing our neurobiology for the kind of world we expect to encounter in the future. The brain is especially plastic early in life, such that our experiences as children have disproportionate influences on our long-term biology and physiology.

For a child who has been separated from their parent at the border, their body and brain are being shaped to anticipate danger and prepare for the worst. This state of hypervigilance, often accompanied by alterations in cognition and emotion, makes healthy functioning a major challenge.

A child whose brain is constantly scanning the environment for danger will undoubtedly have difficulty paying attention in class or interacting with peers on the playground. Some children will internalize their feelings and appear numb; others will respond by acting out. In the long run, the cascade of consequences places individuals who have experienced early trauma at risk for academic or occupational failure, substance abuse, and health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

Even years after the parental deprivation ended, children who were initially raised in institutionalized care show hallmarks of a dysregulated stress response and disruptions in brain development. Certain networks in the brain appear to be especially vulnerable to the effects of early parental deprivation. Surges in stress hormones are more likely to influence regions of the brain that process emotion.

The amygdala, a subcortical brain structure that responds to threat, can become hijacked: Children who experienced parental deprivation show amygdala hyperactivity, meaning the brain is more likely to signal danger even when there is none. Connections with the prefrontal cortex, which are essential for quieting the amygdala, also undergo altered development following parental deprivation. All of these brain changes make it difficult for children to regulate their emotions later in life.

Parents are an integral piece in a powerful system for regulating children’s stress and emotional reactivity. Early in life, the mere presence of a parent reduces a child’s levels of cortisol, a major stress hormone, and downregulates their amygdala reactivity. One study suggests that parents help children to induce a more mature form of amygdala-prefrontal connectivity that encourages effective regulation. Thus, even at the level of neurobiology, children rely deeply on their parents for regulation early in life.

Forcibly separating children from their parents at the border strips children of their strongest buffer against stress when they need it most. The science is definite when it comes to the importance of caregiving for children’s brain development and the profound psychological and neurobiological consequences of parental deprivation. We must put an end to forcible family separation and allow these children the care of their parents to prevent lifelong harm.

Dylan Gee is an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, where her laboratory studies anxiety and stress-related disorders and the impact of early-life trauma on the developing brain.


First Person is Vox’s home for compelling, provocative narrative essays. Do you have a story to share? Read our submission guidelines, and pitch us at firstperson@vox.com.

source: vox

NBA player Sterling Brown sues Milwaukee police over violent arrest

 

Report: babies and toddlers are being separated from their families and held in shelters

 
A Honduran mother holds her 2-year-old as US Border Patrol as agents review their papers near the US-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.

The government finally offers some details on where the youngest children affected by its family separation policy are sent.

As the Trump administration released information about shelters where migrant children are being held this past week, one question kept coming up again and again: Where are the babies and toddlers?

A new Associated Press report offers some answers. According to the AP’s Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza, the youngest of the children who’ve been affected by the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy — which has forced the separation of children from their parents — are being housed in at least three “tender-age” shelters in South Texas.

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. ... [They] said the facilities were fine, clean and safe, but the kids — who have no idea where their parents are — were hysterical, crying and acting out.

“The shelters aren’t the problem, it’s taking kids from their parents that’s the problem,” said South Texas pediatrician Marsha Griffin who has visited many.

The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy prosecutes any adult coming into the US illegally. Adults being prosecuted are held in federal jail while awaiting trial, and children can’t stay with their parents in federal jail, leading to family separations. More than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents since May, according to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The policy has drawn overwhelming backlash, with critics calling it “cruel,” “immoral” and “inhumane.”

As required by law, children who are separated from their families and deemed unaccompanied minors must be transferred to the custody of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours of being detained. At that point, these children are moved from a border detention center into an HHS facility.

Earlier this week, CBP and HHS disclosed video and photos of some of the locations that are being used — including chilling images that showed children held in metal enclosures closely resembling cages. ProPublica also released heart-wrenching audio of children sobbing at a detention center after they had been separated from their parents.

The “tender-age” shelters are designed to house children younger than the age of 13, including some who are under 5.

“We have specialized facilities that are devoted to providing care to children with special needs and tender-age children as we define as under 13 would fall into that category,” HHS official Steven Wagner told the AP. “They’re not government facilities per se, and they have very well-trained clinicians, and those facilities meet state licensing standards for child welfare agencies, and they’re staffed by people who know how to deal with the needs — particularly of the younger children.”

HHS has plans to add a fourth “tender-age” shelter in Houston — an expansion that comes as the agency experiences an influx of young children in its custody. As the AP points out, the establishment of such shelters is taking place decades after the US government shut down the use of orphanages because of concerns about the trauma such facilities could cause children.

The younger the children are, the more serious such trauma can be, as Vox’s Dylan Scott reports. Experts say that separation and the subsequent experiences that follow likely lead to heightened stress levels, developmental delays and illnesses that could impact children for years to come.

“The younger the child is and the longer they are in this kind of situation, the more difficult it is to reverse it,” he writes.

source: vox

A prominent GOP strategist has left the Republican Party over family separations at the border

 
Steve Schmidt, top GOP strategist, says he’s leaving the Republican Party over Trump’s family separation policy.

“The GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values,” top GOP strategist Steve Schmidt writes.

Steve Schmidt is a prominent GOP strategist; he was a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign and a former George W. Bush staffer. He ran Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reelection bid in California.

On Wednesday, he renounced his membership in the Republican Party — because of President Donald Trump’s policy of forced family separations at the US-Mexico border.

In a series of scathing tweets Wednesday morning, Schmidt denounced the Republican party for being “corrupt, indecent, and immoral” and “fully the party of Trump,” adding that he would be voting with the Democratic Party from now on — “the only party left in America that stands for what is right and decent and remains fidelitous to our Republic, objective truth, the rule of law and our Allies,” he writes.

The Trump administration has separated more than 2,300 children, from infants to teenagers, from their parents at the border in recent months, as part of what it calls a “zero-tolerance” policy toward asylum seekers crossing the border illegally. The United Nations has called the practice, which has left thousands of kids in detention across the country (some in tent cities), illegal and inhumane. This is the latest in a series of Trump administration hardline immigration policies that have made it harder for migrants to claim refuge in the United States.

“It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families. It is immoral and must be repudiated,” Schmidt writes of the policy, citing “internment camps for children.”

But Trump has only doubled down, blaming Democrats for establishing “weak” immigration laws. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress have tried to toe a narrow line between applauding Trump’s enforcement of immigration laws and rebuking the family separations — the direct result of the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy at the border.

Schmidt called out Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell for standing by Trump’s administration.

“Their legacies will be ones of well earned ignominy,” he writes of Ryan and McConnell. “Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values.”

Notably, Schmidt’s denouncement of the Republican Party was also a call to action — to vote out Republicans in the 2018 midterms. According to a Quinnipiac poll released this week, an overwhelming 66 percent of voters oppose family separations. And as Vox’s Li Zhou reported, the policy is unlikely to play well with voters — which could be particularly disastrous for Republicans in a midterm election where Democrats are energized to take back control of Congress.

Schmidt’s full comments are below:

source: vox

Report: “tent cities” for separated migrant children cost more than keeping them with their parents

 
A tent encampment holding children of immigrants is seen recently built near the Tornillo port of entry on June 19, 2018, in Tornillo, Texas. 

Newly created “tent cities” for separated children cost two to three times what it would to keep them with their parents.

Family separation at the border is not a cost-cutting measure for President Donald Trump: Newly created “tent cities” for migrant children being separated from their parents cost $775 per night per person, according to a new report. That’s two to three times what it costs to put them in a permanent facility or to keep them with their parents.

NBC News’s Julia Ainsley, citing an official at the Department of Health and Human Services, reported on Wednesday that the “tent cities” the US government is setting up to hold the influx of migrant children cost nearly $800 per night, much more than other alternatives. There’s a lot of urgency to get these temporary facilities up and running fast, and bringing in security, air conditioning, medical workers, and other government contractors at such a pace is expensive.

For comparison, NBC News reports holding a child in a permanent HHS facility in Brownsville, Texas, costs $256 per night per person. And keeping kids with their parents in a detention center costs about $298 per resident per night.

In other words, it’s most cost-effective to keep kids with their parents or, at the very least, in preexisting facilities.

The HHS official told NBC News it is “aggressively looking for more potential sites” for tent cities as more and more children arrive. More than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the Trump administration announced its “zero tolerance” policy for illegal entry in May. More than 11,000 immigrants under the age of 18 are in custody.

The tent cities aren’t good, but it’s not clear if there are better alternatives

The image created by tent cities is not a pretty one, and the idea of putting children in essentially outdoor camps is disturbing. But the actual scenario might be a lot more complicated, as Vox’s Dara Lind recently explained.

The Flores settlement, a court order that’s been in place for decades, requires that immigrant children in custody be placed with a close family or friend “without unnecessary delay,” and if there isn’t a family or friend, children have to be kept in the “least restrictive” form of custody possible.

The government might prefer to actually keep families together in immigrant detention, in part because of costs. And keeping families together makes deporting all of them at once easier if they aren’t granted asylum.

The Trump administration has blamed the Flores settlement for its separation of families, but of course, it’s not required to split up children and parents. As Lind explains, though, the imagery of “tent cities” is more complicated than meets the eye:

Which is more humane? To take a child from her parent, keep her in a temporary “tent” for a few days or weeks, and then place her with a relative? Or to keep child and parent together, in detention, for months or years?

Most of the administration’s critics would probably answer that the only humane option is to release the whole family together and find another way to monitor their cases to make sure they show up for their court dates. But that is the one option the administration refuses to put back on the table.

source: vox

The voices of children separated at the border

 

A Vox-ProPublica collaboration delves into the story behind a devastating audio clip.

As the Trump administration continues to defend its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which since April has separated more than 2,300 children from their parents at the border, ProPublica obtained an audio recording from inside a US Customs and Border Protection facility. The recording captured the voices of kids as young as 4 years old, crying for “Mami” and “Papá” as if those were the only words they knew. Check out the video above as Ginger Thompson breaks down the story behind this audio clip.

The audio intensified the bipartisan outcry to put an end to the policy. But at a White House briefing Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen blamed Congress, saying that until the nation’s immigration laws are rewritten, children will remain in detention centers as their parents face criminal charges for entering the country without permission, a move at the discretion of the administration.

Most concerning to the families being separated is what appears to be a lack of a plan to reunite the children with their parents. Six-year-old Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid, who can be heard crying in the video, had not been able to speak to her mother for days after they were separated, according to the girl’s aunt. Authorities at the shelter have warned the girl that her mother could be deported without her.

This piece makes up the ninth installment in Vox’s collaboration with ProPublica. You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. Subscribe and stay tuned for more from our partnership with ProPublica.

ProPublica is continuing to investigate stories at the border. Has your family been separated at the US-Mexico border? Are you a worker at a detention center, or do you aid families who have been affected? Tell them more at border@propublica.org or 347-244-2134.

source: vox

“A recipe for toxic stress”: an expert on why Trump’s family separation policy is so damaging to kids

 
The separation of thousands of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border, a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy of prosecuting parents for illegal entry, is spurring liberals and some conservatives to denounce the administration as heartless. But separating kids from their parents isn’t just about morals; it also has long-term consequences for a child’s mental and physical health.

Being separated from a parent isn’t just a trauma — it breaks the relationship that helps children cope with other traumas.

The separation of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy is, to many people — liberals and conservatives alike — a viscerally repellent act.

Reports like the recording ProPublica obtained of children crying for their parents, or accounts of children in temporary foster care crying themselves to sleep every night, inspire in a lot of people the idea that something deeply wrong is happening. Not only do they make it apparent that children are being harmed, but they may be being harmed permanently.

It seems to be, in a word, traumatic.

But when we call family separation traumatic, what does that actually mean? What about children’s brains and their understanding of the world is broken when they’re taken from a parent?

Over the past few decades, we’ve gained a lot of insight into this question. And one of the foremost experts on it is Nadine Burke Harris, whose organization, the Center for Youth Wellness, does research and clinical work on “toxic stress” — a condition that researchers have identified with significant mental and physical health differences, in the short and long run.

The key to preventing an adverse childhood experience from metastasizing into toxic stress, Harris and others have concluded, is having a “safe, stable, nurturing relationship” with an adult caregiver.

In other words, Harris told me, Trump’s policy is “almost a recipe for toxic stress.”

I spoke with Harris by phone a few days ago. A transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity, is below.

Dara Lind

What are your concerns about this particular policy of family separation? What made you decide that this was something you needed to speak up about in particular when it comes to the long-term well-being of the children involved?

Nadine Burke Harris

Toxic stress results from the exposure of children to stressful or traumatic events that activates the biological stress response in a significant way. Normally, when kids have access to safe, stable, nurturing relationships, those relationships and other factors are a buffer to this over-activation of the stress response.

So when we look at the biology of toxic stress, we recognize that the goal is not just to eliminate all stress from children’s lives. It’s to understand we can prevent long-term health problems by ensuring that the conditions to prevent toxic stress are in place.

This policy is — unfortunately, it’s almost a recipe for toxic stress. What this policy puts into place defies all of the science about what we know about the long-term implications of children’s exposure to significant adversity and how we can mitigate that damage.

The big concern for us as a scientific organization is that all of the research shows that even when kids are exposed to significant stressors, the presence of a nurturing caregiver to be a buffer of that stress protects children’s health.

Dara Lind

I want to drill down on that a bit. I think it’s kind of important to put this in the context of a family that’s coming from, say, El Salvador or Honduras — they’re fleeing gang violence and deprivation and other things that you would think of as being dangerous for a child, and they’ve just taken this very dangerous journey.

Can you talk about exactly how it works, that having the parent there is going to act as a buffer? What’s the difference between going through that process with your parent and having your parent separated at the end of it?

Nadine Burke Harris

When kids experience scary things, it activates something called their fight-or-flight response. The amygdala, which is the fear center in the brain, is activated, and that triggers the release of a cascade of stress hormones.

Normally, what happens when anyone of us is faced with a threat, is that there is activation of this fight-or-flight response: the brain activation of the stress response leading to it, the body’s activation of all these stress hormones.

Particularly for children, one of the most important factors is having a nurturing caregiver who the child trusts — that actually helps to support the child to biologically turn off that biological stress response.

One way this happens: Oxytocin is a bonding hormone. For anyone who’s ever had a baby, it’s a hormone that we use to augment labor — it stimulates contractions of the uterus — and it’s this incredibly strong bonding hormone so that when the baby comes out, you look at the baby and you’re just like, “I love you so much!”

What’s interesting is that when parents hug or snuggle or give kisses to their children, it increases the release of oxytocin in the child’s body. And oxytocin, as a chemical hormone, inhibits the activation of the stress response. So it actually helps to calm down and biologically buffer the stress response.

But if it’s a stranger that you don’t know, you don’t get that same effect.

When children are faced with high doses of adversity, in the absence of that buffering caregiving, what happens is that the stress response system doesn’t turn itself off normally. And that leads to a condition that is now known as toxic stress, in which we have overactivity of the stress response, abnormal levels of stress hormones.

And that changes the structure and function of children’s developing brain, their developing immune system, their hormonal system, and even the way that DNA is read and transcribed.

So how we see that in the short term is that kids are at greater risk for infection, growth problems, sleep problems, problems with digestion, and increased risk of autoimmune disease. And in the long term, what we see is increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other health conditions.

Dara Lind

How long does the separation have to be to start running the risk of long-term damage? In a situation in which the parents are actually being reunited with kids after a couple of days or weeks, is that going to be the same level of threat as being separated from them for months or indefinitely? Or is it worse to have them separated for longer?

Nadine Burke Harris

It’s certainly worse to have them separated for longer. In the short answer of “What’s the minimum dose?” — we don’t know that.

Our environment shapes the way our DNA is read and transcribed through something called epigenetic regulation. And each child’s predisposed vulnerability may be different, so there’s a lot of individual differences between children.

For some children, a lower dose of adversity will lead to a toxic stress response. For others, there are genetic protections. and it’s a combination between what are their genetic protections and vulnerabilities and, also, what their environmental protections or vulnerabilities are.

But we do know that after a certain dose of adversity, most kids begin to have some type of symptomatology.

Dara Lind

From the perspective of, say, a foster family that might be looking after these kids temporarily, what are the behavioral and observational signs that you’d see that would indicate that the child has been particularly adversely affected?

Nadine Burke Harris

Typically, you may see changes in behavior, you may see changes in their eating patterns. For little kids, like 4- and 5-year-olds, they may revert to bed wetting. We might see some developmental regression whether it’s in speech or language, toileting, or other things. You may see increased risk of viral infection, or bacterial infection, from the inhibition of the immune system.

One of the most common risks that we see is behavioral problems, difficulty with self-regulation, impulse control, and those types of things.

Dara Lind

One of the things that has become clear as the policy has been implemented is that children that are coming with their parents are often a lot younger than the kids who have been coming as unaccompanied children in the past. We’re dealing with a lot of people under 5. Is there a particular critical window at which the long-term neurological effects of this are really critical?

Nadine Burke Harris

There are two types of neuroplasticity. There’s synaptic plasticity, and that’s like changing your voice from a whisper to a shout. It’s the strength of the signal across the brain, across the synapse, the connection between two brain cells.

The other type is called cellular plasticity, it’s the number of brain cells that talk to each other. It’s the difference between one person shouting and a whole stadium shouting.

Cellular plasticity, the second kind, is very rapid in the first five years of life. So about 90 percent of it occurs by the 6th birthday. Meanwhile, synaptic plasticity is lifelong.

So what we see is that the exposures that happen in early childhood, through the first five years, tend to have an outsized impact on kids’ health and development, compared to impact that happens later, because of this change in neuroplasticity.

Dara Lind

What are the kind of super-long-term concerns — you know, 10, 20 years out — about having one traumatic experience and then having a lack of caregiver to nurture you through it?

Nadine Burke Harris

The long-term concerns are significant. We are looking at increased risk of health problems — significant health problems. I’m talking 10 to 20 years down the line, right?

So one of the big challenges is that these experiences of early adversity, if they lead to an overactivity of the stress response, that can be lifelong unless the child receives the appropriate intervention. That long-term overactivity of the stress response is what leads to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, mental health problems, increased risk of substance dependence, and other conditions like that. So, it’s pretty worrisome.

The greater the cumulative adversity, the greater the risk. For these kids who are coming to the US, many of them have already experienced, for example, you mentioned maybe going through harrowing experiences to get here. So they may already have a significant cumulative dose of adversity when they get here.

And then having gone through this, when you remove the caregiver who is their buffer to adversity, that can lead to significant increased risk.

Dara Lind

Is there anything that can be done to mitigate that down the road?

Nadine Burke Harris

There are interventions that can help to mitigate the activity of the stress response. Working on an effective sleep regimen; making sure that kids are getting regular exercise, to be able to metabolize stress hormones and activate endorphins and other hormones that buffer the stress response. We talk about sleep, exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, mental health, and healthy relationships. But ultimately, getting to the root of the problems, which is addressing the chronic stress, is the big piece.

The work that we do at the Center for Youth Wellness is in vulnerable communities where there are a lot of chronic stressors. And so we are, right now, working really hard to find clinical interventions that will help to regulate the stress response and help to reduce the risk of these health problems. But we have a ways to go.

Dara Lind

When you say we have a ways to go, you’re essentially gesturing to the kind of policy changes that would prevent this from being an issue?

Nadine Burke Harris

When I say we have a ways to go, I mean in terms of the medical management of toxic stress as a condition. But the other piece in which we have a ways to go is the larger, and I think ultimately more significant piece: the work that we can do immediately.

So there’s one piece in terms of biomedical research that we need to be able to address toxic stress as a health condition. But the work that we can do immediately is around policy.

We have enough science to understand how we can be implementing policies that reduce the dose of adversity for kids and enhance the ability of their caregivers to be buffers. Because when we look at lead poisoning, we can chelate (medically remove) lead out of the blood of kids above a certain level.

But the most important thing we did with lead was policy around removing lead from paint and water and pipes and gasoline and pencils. Removing these environmental sources of lead was really a policy change, and that is what drove the dramatic decrease of lead poisoning and the resultant neurotoxicity in children.

Similarly, adversity in childhood is a neurotoxin. And we have an opportunity, as a nation, to reduce the environmental sources of adversity. If we have this policy, and we can either do it one way, which exacerbates and augments the childhood adversity, or we can do it in another way, which enhances and maximizes buffering and reduces the dose of adversity — the idea that we would choose to do it in a way that increases the stress and the trauma, and therefore increases the physical and psychological harm to the child, feels like it flies in the face of the science and the research.

source: vox

We asked 8 Republican senators how they plan to address family separations — if at all

 

I Signed Into Law The 2018 Appropriation Bill – President Buhari (Full Text)

 

President Muhammdu Buhari today Wednesday, 20 June 2018 signed into law the 2018 Appropriation Bill at the state-house in Abuja. The President signed the bill in the witness of his cabinet members.

Below is the full text of his speech at the signing.

I would like to thank the leadership of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as all the Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members, for passing the 2018 Appropriation Bill, after seven months.

When I submitted the 2018 Budget proposals to the National Assembly on 7th November 2017, I had hoped that the usual legislative review process would be quick, so as to move Nigeria towards a predictable January-December financial year. The importance of this predictability cannot be overemphasized.

While the Federal Government’s budget represents less than 10% of aggregate yearly expenditures in the economy, it has a very significant accelerator effect on the financial plans of other tiers of government, and even more importantly, the private sector, which mostly operates on a January-December financial year.

Notwithstanding the delay this year, I am determined to continue to work with the National Assembly towards improving the budgeting process and restoring our country to the January-December fiscal cycle.

I note, with pleasure, that the National Assembly is working on the enactment of an Organic Budget Law, so as to improve the efficiency of the nation’s budgetary process.

As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, we intend to use the 2018 Budget to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.

It is in this regard that I am concerned about some of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the budget proposals that I presented. The logic behind the Constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive is that, it is the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects.

Unfortunately, that has not been given much regard in what has been sent to me. The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.

Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will, therefore, be difficult to execute.

Furthermore, many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.

As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.

Such examples of projects from which cuts were made are as follows:

a. The provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as Counter-part funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project were cut by an aggregate of 11.5 billion Naira.

b. Similarly, provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira.

c. The provision for Rehabilitation and Additional Security Measures for the United Nations Building by the FCT, Abuja was cut by 3.9 billion Naira from 4 billion Naira to 100 million Naira; this will make it impossible for the Federal Government of Nigeria to fulfill its commitment to the United Nations on this project.

d. The provisions for various Strategic Interventions in the health sector such as the upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system, provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira.

e. The provision for security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country were cut by 3 billion Naira at a time when securing our students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern of government.

f. The provision for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme was cut by 8.7 billion Naira.

g. At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.

h. The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.

i. The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira which will further delay the completion of this critical project.

j. The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira.

k. About seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote. Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly.

Another area of concern is the increase by the National Assembly of the provisions for Statutory Transfers by an aggregate of 73.96 billion Naira. Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance.

An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself which has increased by 14.5 billion Naira, from 125 billion Naira to 139.5 billion Naira without any discussion with the Executive.

Notwithstanding the above-stated observations, I have decided to sign the 2018 Budget in order not to further slow down the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget.

However, it is my intention to seek to remedy some of the most critical of these issues through a supplementary and/or amendment budget which I hope the National Assembly will be able to expeditiously consider.

I am pleased with the success recorded in the implementation of the 2017 Budget. A total sum of 1.5 trillion Naira has been released for the implementation of capital projects during the 2017 fiscal year. In response to this and other policy measures implemented, we have observed significant improvement in the performance of the Nigerian economy.

To achieve the laudable objectives of the 2018 Budget, we will work very hard to generate the revenues required to finance our projects and programmes. The positive global oil market outlook, as well as continuing improvement in non-oil revenues, make us optimistic about our ability to finance the budget.

However, being a deficit budget, the Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly. I crave the indulgence of the National Assembly for a speedy consideration and approval of the Plan.

The 2018 Budget I have just signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of 9.12 trillion Naira, which is 22.6% higher than the 2017 Appropriation. Further details of the approved budget will be provided by the Minister of Budget and National Planning.

I thank the Ministers of Budget and National Planning, the Budget Office of the Federation, and everyone who worked tirelessly and sacrificed so much to bring us to this day. However, the job is only partly done.

I am sure you will remain committed to advancing our Change Agenda, not only in the preparation of the national budget but also in ensuring its effective implementation.

I thank you and may God bless Nigeria.

(NTA)

Family separation isn’t just immoral. It’s likely ineffective.

 
Central American asylum seekers wait as US Border Patrol agents take them into custody on June 12, 2018, near McAllen, Texas.

Deterrence tactics have dominated our border for decades. We’re still not sure if they work.

The Trump administration is under searing criticism nationwide as a result of its “zero-tolerance” policy that has resulted in the separation of thousands of children from parents who are being criminally prosecuted for illegally entering the United States. Facing a torrent of criticism, even from traditional allies, the administration has hunkered down; officials are framing the policy as necessary to deter rising family migration from Central America.

“When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away ... when people come up, they have to know they can’t get in,” President Donald Trump said Tuesday.

Deterrence is hardly a new concept in border enforcement. It’s been the basic principle behind immigration policy, enforced to varying degrees, for several administrations. But until now, the stiffest forms of punishment — prosecution and federal prison time — were reserved for adults traveling alone, not families.

But it is far from clear whether the new shock-and-awe measures will substantially deter future migrants from Central America, including families with children. Past experience does not demonstrate an “implement policy, achieve desired outcome” effect.

The reasons are many, not least that the forces that impel people to migrate are entangled with profound economic, political, and other realities. This is especially true for recent migrants from Central America, who have faced intense pressure to migrate due to poverty, natural disasters, civil wars, and extreme gang violence in recent decades.

A quick history of recent border deterrence strategies

For decades, deterrence has guided the philosophy of policing the border. Starting in the 1990s, the US Border Patrol expanded its capabilities to apprehend illegal crossers along the US-Mexico border. It sealed off major urban centers and thereby forced migrants to cross in more remote, dangerous areas. The US government has also used public service announcements in Mexico and Central America to broadcast messages about the dangers of crossing the border in arid deserts and rugged mountainous areas.

During the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, the government began imposing what the Border Patrol calls “consequences” for illegal crossing beyond simply turning them away. This includes the repatriation of migrants far from where they crossed — for instance, sending people apprehended in California back to Mexico through ports of entry in Texas, in an effort to break bonds with local smugglers.

Other tactics include formal deportation, which bars people from future legal admission to the United States, and prosecuting them in federal courts, where they may receive significant prison sentences.

These strategies were designed to raise psychological and financial costs for would-be border crossers, forcing them to think twice about the consequences of attempting illegal entry. There is some evidence that this system of deterrence worked. Fears about dying of exposure in the desert or mountains, being kidnapped or extorted by criminal elements along the border, or spending a few months in a US jail appear to have cut down the number of people who attempted a border crossing.

Border Patrol apprehensions at the Southwest border, which hit a 1.6 million peak in 2000 and exceeded 1 million as recently as 2006, plummeted to just over 300,000 in 2017 — a level not seen since the early 1970s.

The effectiveness of deterrence policies can also be seen in the declining number of people trying to cross the border more than once. In 2007, 29 percent of apprehended migrants were “recidivists” who were caught more than once in the same year; in 2014, the rate was just 14 percent. Border Patrol agents and researchers have attributed the decline to increased costs and dangers associated with repatriation through remote areas, the shock of being forced to appear in federal court (often in shackles and chains) and federal prison sentences that can last up to six months for first-time entrants and longer for those accused of multiple reentry or assisting smugglers.

But the dramatic drop in apprehensions is not due to deterrence alone. The United States has become a less attractive option for migrants for other reasons: In Mexico, historic improvements in the economy and education system have also kept more people at home. (And birth rates are declining, reducing the supply of migrants.)

Finally, the US recession in 2008 reduced the number of jobs that served as magnets for unauthorized immigrant workers. For immigrants seeking a brighter economic future, crossing the border to the US was no longer worth the risk.

Changing flows and migration pressures alter the deterrence equation

Historically, the vast majority of apprehended migrants have been young adults from Mexico. But in 2014, for the first time, the Border Patrol apprehended more Central Americans than Mexicans.

That year, moreover, 29 percent of apprehensions were families or children traveling alone, up from less than 10 percent a decade ago. They did not fit the profile of previous migrants looking for economic opportunity: Many were fleeing domestic or gang violence in their home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

During the Obama and preceding administrations, asylum-seeking migrants like these were largely spared from harsher deterrence tactics. Most families and adults traveling alone who were intercepted and who claimed asylum were released into the United States pending immigration court hearings.

Due to immigration court backlogs, most of the families, children, and other asylum seekers spent years in the United States awaiting the resolution of their cases. The vast majority of families and children apprehended since 2014 remain in the United States. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump joined others in criticizing “catch-and-release” policies that allowed asylum seekers to remain in the United States for years, a practice that, he argued, incentivized illegal immigration.

The election of Trump, who made tough immigration enforcement a centerpiece of his campaign, proved a deterrent of its own, at least for a while. During 2017, apprehensions fell to near-record lows amid sharp rhetoric from the president combined with tough executive orders on immigration and a surge in arrests of unauthorized immigrants inside the United States.

But a year later, this “Trump effect” has largely subsided; in the period from March through May 2018, apprehensions reverted to levels similar to those of 2014 through 2016. Meanwhile, the share of families and children among apprehended migrants rose to 39 percent, compared to under 10 percent a decade ago.

“Zero tolerance” is the new deterrence approach

Last month, the Trump administration responded to the increase in family arrivals by announcing the new “zero-tolerance” policy, which has resulted in the heart-rending stories of family separation we’re hearing about. Prosecution of parents for illegal entry in federal court requires separation from children, who cannot be held with them in criminal incarceration.

But in the worst case, if their asylum claims are denied, parents may be deported, leaving their children in the US. These children could remain in our country in long-term foster care if the Office of Refugee Resettlement cannot find another family member in the country who is willing and able to care for them.

And whether this strategy will deter family flows from Central America in the long term remains to be seen.

El Salvador and Honduras have among the highest murder rates in the world. Gang violence is an ever-present danger, especially for women and young people gangs try to recruit. Guatemala is experiencing ongoing political instability and has a high rate of extreme poverty. Research shows significant shares of child migrants from all three countries witnessed violence or were threatened by violence before fleeing.

The fact that apprehensions slowed last year only to rebound this year suggests that the reasons people are fleeing the region are powerful enough to overcome severe deterrence policies. Migrants are risking their lives to get away from horrific conditions without guarantee of success — only a small percentage ultimately meet the stringent US criteria for granting asylum.

What then is the answer? How can humanitarian protection for adults and children with valid asylum claims be balanced against policies that are essential to maintaining border security?

The solution cannot simply be more punishment, especially when it inflicts significant and lasting psychological harm on children. Such a solution is antithetical not just to international norms but to American values, whatever the deterrent effect might prove to be.

Moreover, while there is evidence that prosecution, shackling, and the threat of prison time have in the past deterred economic migrants from attempting to enter the United States illegally, these forms of deterrence are likely to be less successful with humanitarian migrants, especially families and children, who are often fleeing life-or-death circumstances in their home countries.

Family apprehensions have not dropped since the new policy was implemented, but it is still too soon to know. Even if they do, it is morally reprehensible to forcibly separate children from parents under any circumstances — deterrence cannot justify such cruelty.

Randy Capps is director of research for US Programs at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, DC. He is a leading national expert on US immigration policies and immigrant demographics and integration. Capps has written numerous reports on immigrant populations at the state and local levels and recently completed a national study of immigration enforcement during the Trump administration.


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source: vox